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Peter Schmuck

Ken Griffey was always going to be a Hall of Famer, but Mike Piazza started out as a Powerball long shot

Obviously, the only question about Ken Griffey Jr's Hall of Fame candidacy was whether he would be elected by a unanimous vote. He was baseball royalty almost from birth. Mike Piazza is a totally different story.

No, I'm not talking about the whispers that followed Piazza through the steroid era. He never tested positive. He was one of the best-hitting catchers of all time. He deserves to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame come July.

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I'm talking about the fact that he was drafted so low in 1988 (62nd round) that he was almost baseball's Mr. Irrelevant. The talk at the time was that he was only drafted as a courtesy to his father, who was a very close hometown buddy of manager Tommy Lasorda.

Sometimes, it really is a small world. I can remember a 13-year-old Piazza hanging around Uncle Tommy's office when I was a young Dodgers beat writer and we passed through Philadelphia. I think he had that moustache even then.

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So maybe it was appropriate that on the night when the Powerball jackpot hit a half-billion dollars, one of the greatest draft long shots in major league history found out he would be immortalized in bronze in Cooperstown.

His stats: .308 batting average, 427 homers, 1,335 RBIs.

Slam dunk.

HOF disclosure: Peter Schmuck is a qualifed HOF voter, but the Baltimore Sun does not allow its reporters to vote for major sports awards.


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